Wednesday was the last day of April, and it is also a German ‘holiday.’ Walpurgisnacht always falls on April 30, no matter what day of the week it is. This year, there was a huge celebration on Domplatz ON A WEDNESDAY NIGHT!! I’m not sure all of my facts are true, but from what I understand, Walpurgisnacht is a celebration, welcoming warmer weather and spring. They have a bonfire to symbolize burning witches and getting rid of the cold winter weather. May 1st is always a bank holiday, so everything is closed, including school (no classes, woo hoo!), so the Germans can party and stay up as late as their hearts desire. The bonfire on Domplatz was so massive that it puts ANY bonfire YOU HAVE EVER HAD to shame. We were standing at least 60-100 ft away from the fire and it the heat was so intense that we had to move further away. From where I was standing, and the pictures I took, the fire looks almost as tall as the cathedral behind it!
I know it’s really fast movement, but this video gives you an idea about how massive this celebration actually is!
The next day, Thursday, May Day, whatever you would like to call it, I ventured out to Eisenach for a day trip with other exchange students. Eisenach is home to the Wartburg Castle. This is where Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German. Before then, there were many different dialects and variations of the German language. After Luther translated the New Testament, that became the most widespread variation of the language and modern German language stems from this variation. Not many languages can point to one location and say, “Our language started/ was born here.” For the Germans, Wartburg is that one place.
It was overcast all morning, and I was glad that I decided to bring along my rain coat, just in case. It’s about an hour train ride to Eisenach, so we left Erfurt around 11am. By the time we arrived in Eisenach around 12, and there was a 1:30 tour of the castle in English. Most of the others (including non-Americans) wanted to take the tour in English instead of German, and by the time the bus dropped us and we made the hike up to the castle, we had 5 minutes to spare! The sun came out for our hike up the mountain, and it was really nice weather when we started the tour! However, when we ended the tour, it was dark, dreary, cold, and raining. The pictures still turned out OK though! My original plan was to wander around the town of Eisenach once we were finished at the castle, but since the weather headed south, and everything was closed, I said I could come back another weekend, since it is still in Thüringen and it’s free transportation with my student ID.
When I returned to Erfurt, I was disappointed at the thought of going to class the next day, and had wished that May 1 would have fallen on a Friday… If it had, it would have been a 4 day weekend, and I would have planned a bigger trip to somewhere a little bit further away, like Berlin or Prague. I have the rest of the summer to plan one of those trips though!
Pictures from Walpurgisnacht can be found under the Erfurt page.
Pictures from the Wartburg can be found under the Photos page.
Until next time,